Why it may be more important to stay healthy now than ever before
So, Hillary Clinton is calling the Republicans “the death party” if they are able to pass their current health-care measure (which is, admittedly, pretty unlikely, but in today’s political setting the unlikely is more possible than we think). That term seems pretty media/politically-minded and a touch severe and I am not here to take sides, but there are some frightening stats about the possible new health care bill. The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that 22 million additional people would be without health insurance by 2026, and by no later than next year 15 million more would be without health insurance. The same report said that a 64-year-old with an annual income of $56,800 would average a premium of $20,500 per year (three times the amount expected under the Affordable Care Act). That would explain why the number of insured people would drop.
But wait, there is more scary data, this new bill would make it much easier for states (particularly, I would imagine, red states) to be exempted from standards like providing minimum health benefits. What does that mean? It means that some of the “essential benefits” required by the Affordable Care Act (which some people didn’t like because it was the reason that they weren’t actually allowed to keep their current coverage like they were promised, but I digress…..) would be lifted. Examples of some of these “essential benefits” include maternity care, mental health care, rehab services, and some expensive drugs. The good news is only 17% of the population approves of this bill, but, again, in the current political climate, I am not sure that is damning enough to keep the Senate from pushing forward.
The point is, regardless of what happens politically, we have to put a bigger emphasis on taking care of our health. A lot of Americans have gotten to the point where the thought process is “I can do whatever I want, my doctor will give me pills to fix me”. Whether it be high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, etc…..soooo many chronic illnesses are largely related to the choices we make. And, we don’t know if we are going to be able to count on having the luxury of having regular access to doctors in the future, so the time to take care of ourselves is now.
What are the most effective ways I can stay healthy NOW?
- Eat healthily – This is, without a doubt, is the most important thing you can do to stay healthy, here are some basic (not to be confused with easy) tips for a well-balanced diet.
- Veggies, veggies, veggies, and fruit – In my mind, you can’t eat too many vegetables (fruits, on the other hand, are pretty sugar heavy and you can overdo it). Greens are probably the best of the best, but you really want to eat a wide variety of colors to get a good variety of vitamins
- Avoid grains – Minimize all grains, but if you are going to eat them, make it whole grains (whole wheat, barley, oats). Avoid white or enriched flour and sugar like the plague.
- Eat healthy fats – Here I tend to disagree with prevailing medical wisdom. For the last 50 years or so, science has been pushing fish fish fish fish fish, no red meat, more fish. I am actually of the mind that eating grass fed beef (fats and all) is considerably healthier than eating any kind of fish that is high in mercury on a regular basis. Also, there is increasing evidence that heating vegetable oils release toxic cancer-causing chemicals. This flies in the face of “health experts” who, to this day, insist that we should be cooking solely with vegetable oils because they are lower in saturated fats. I cook almost solely with butter and duck fat (which is a lovely cooking fat if you can find it). I also believe that saturated fat is not the enemy (please read The Big Fat Surprise for more info) but that is a whole other topic….I am, however, securely with the scientific community when it comes to nuts and avocados, those are a solid go!
- Get your nutrients from your food, not supplements – As the purveyor of supplements, this may seem pretty contradictory. I do agree that food is ultimately the best way to get your nutrients. Supplements are not a way to make up for a poor diet. I do not at all condone eating Doritos and Twinkies but thinking “it’s OK because I take a multi” (even if that is super tempting at times). However, it is almost impossible to reliably get the full array of nutrients daily, so, personally, I add on these supplements as an insurance policy, if you will, that I am not missing out on any of the essentials.
- Multi-Vitamin – I like Alpha Base by Ortho Molecular. The biggest differences between this and “the bigguys” are that companies like Ortho Molecular test the raw materials and the finished product so they (and you) can be certain that what the label claims are in there, is in there. Also, any “one-a-day” vitamin is going “straight the toilet” as they say, that hard-packed white tablet is just too much for the body to break down and absorb, so you end up with nothing. Good companies, like Ortho Molecular, soft pack capsules (which means you have to take 4 of them, so put on your big boy pants) so you can actually break them down and absorb the nutrients, pretty important.
- Fish-Oil – The reason science repeatedly tells us to eat more fish, is that fish is great for you. The health benefits of fish oil continue to expand and now include lowering the risk of heart disease, improving the symptoms of certain mental disorders, reducing weight disorders, improving eye health, reducing inflammation and the symptoms of inflammatory disease, reducing skin damage, actually the list is so long that I can’t even go on. Unfortunately, again, a large portion of our fish supply is pretty polluted. So the two things you can do are choose your fish carefully (lately I have been pretty info a craft farmed, sustainable salmon from Skuna Bay that is very low in mercury) and take a high-quality fish oil. You have to be particularly careful about the fish oil you take as many of them have been found to be either rancid or mislabeled.
Ok, to be continued, this topic has turned out to be one that is easy to ramble on about, but we will talk about exercise
and possibly even more about diet next week, until next time,